Waterway Duals Recap: Six NY Teams Compete; 631 Elite Earns Third Place

A year ago, a team from Long Island captured the title at the Waterway Duals in Pennsylvania.  On Saturday, Long Island was again well represented at the 2013 version of the tournament, as 631 Elite grabbed third place in the 26-team field.

“This is a great event,” said John Passaro, who was an assistant for the team. “There are quality matches all over the place. You go to tournaments like these to be exposed to great competition and to see what you need to work on. This time of the year, every match is important. September and October are about preparing for states and nationals in February and March.  The tremendous competition at Waterway Duals definitely helps to do that.”

631 Elite began with a bye and then had a meeting with Malvern in a rematch of last year’s Waterway Duals finals.  Things didn’t get off to an ideal start.

“Momentum wasn’t going our way at first – it was a little bit scary,” Passaro said. “We got pinned in the first match and then Vito [Arujau] was thrown to his back right away at 113 [pounds].  We could have been down 12-0. But Vito fought off his back and came back and showed tremendous heart.  He not only won the match with a pin, but he turned around the whole dual.”

Vito Arujau, Photo by BV

Arujau’s fall knotted the score at 6 and the Long Islanders took over from there, with Nick Piccininni (120) and Travis Passaro (126) giving the squad the lead for good with back-to-back triumphs.  In the end, 631 Elite won 12 of the 14 bouts in a 52-9 result.

Next up was another Empire State group – Journeymen, which had notched victories in the first two rounds.  In the quarterfinal showdown, 631 came out on top 39-15 behind bonus point wins by Arujau, Piccininni, Jimmy Leach (145), Steve Schneider (170), Nick Weber (195) and Peter Strassfield (heavyweight).  According to Passaro, one of the most exciting contests was at 132 where Journeymen All-American Kevin Jack (an Eastern States champion for Danbury, CT) edged NHSCA Freshman National Champion Chris Mauriello, 3-2.

In the semifinals, 631 met Bison Legend, another Pennsylvania squad.  It was close early, with Arujau and Piccininni giving the team a 7-3 advantage after the first three weights.  However, the Keystone State squad then took control, ending with a 37-10 victory.  (Also coming out on top for the Long Island group was Mepham state champion Louis Hernandez, who had an 11-5 decision at 152).

“Bison came in with a stacked lineup – Fargo All-Americans and quality guys up and down the lineup,” Passaro said. “They were accomplished, hungry and in shape. There were a bunch of close matches that could have gone either way and we lost all of them. But that’s the exact reason to wrestle there.  We got humbled a little bit, but we know what we need to work on.  You want to wrestle those elite kids.”

631 rebounded well, finishing the day on a high note in the third place contest with a 49-12 win over Defiant.  The Long Island wrestlers registered nine wins in the 14 matches, including pins by Leach, Hernandez and Weber.

“The team wrestled really well in the third place match,” Passaro said. “These kids have been doing this long enough to know you only remember your last match on the ride home.  They wanted to have a good ride home and they did.”

Going unbeaten for 631 were Vito Arujau, Nick Piccininni and Louis Hernandez. Meanwhile, Travis Passaro, Jimmy Leach, Greg Cherry, Steven Schneider and Nick Weber all compiled 3-1 records. (The full roster of the bronze medal team is listed at the end of the article).

While 631 Elite earned third with a 3-1 record, another New York squad also registered a 3-1 mark on Saturday.   Team Long Island opened against Contender in a close match that finished deadlocked at 30. After the tiebreaking criteria were applied, Contender was declared the winner, sending Team Long Island out of the placement bracket. (According to Passaro, both teams had two falls during the dual, but a forfeit by Long Island was counted as a fall and Contender moved forward on the ‘most pins’ criterion).

The team bounced back strong, outscoring its opponents 164-18 to win the last three duals in commanding fashion.  Leading the way were undefeated wrestlers James Szymanski (120), Jack Taddeo (132), Sean O’Hagan (138), Ed Ramirez (145) and Gino Titone (152).

“Being in that tournament, in that environment will only help everyone’s development,” Passaro said. “It was tough to lose on the tiebreakers like that, but the positive way to look at it is that the team had three matches where they did extremely well afterwards.”

Also doing extremely well were a number of other wrestlers.  For Journeymen, Kevin Jack, Brett Perry (182) and Youssif Hemida (220) collected four victories apiece, according to the online results.

That wasn’t all for New York wrestling. Iowa Style also took the mat on Saturday, nabbing a victory over fellow Empire State grapplers from Beat the Streets Red.

Beat the Streets brought two teams to the event and the Blue squad notched a 2-2 record with wins over two Pennsylvania foes – 36-16 over Turks Head and 46-21 against MWA.   State champion Adis Radoncic picked up three wins, as did Saidyokub Kahramonov at 145 and Miguel Perez at 220.

One additional standout showing from New York at the event was that of Hilton state champion Yianni Diakomihalis.  The Section 5 star went 4-0 at 106 pounds for the first place team (Griffin Select, Pennsylvania), with three victories by bonus points.

—————-

Passaro mentioned a number of individuals who coached and/or contributed heavily to the success of the Long Island teams, including Mike Patrovich, Ed Ramirez, Matt DeVincenzo, Nick Mauriello, Vougar Oroudjov, Les Ware and Lance Banfi.

 

631 Elite – Third Place Roster

106 Matteo DeVincenzo

113 Vito Arujau

120 Nick Piccininni

126 Travis Passaro

132 Chris Mauriello

138 Evan Meyer

145 Jimmy Leach

152 Louis Hernandez

160 Greg Cherry

170 Steve Schneider

182 Dom Pirraglia

195 Nick Weber

220 Rafal Rokosz

Hwt Peter Stassfield

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Rumble Recap: USA Dominates Russia; Dake Earns Only Win Over Iran in International Debut

 
 

BY MATT DIANO

In a demonstration of the unity shared by the international wrestling community, three of the world’s best—the United States, Iran, and Russia— assembled under the single roof of Grand Central Station on 42nd Street in Manhattan for an epic event to prove that if the International Olympic Committee (IOC) intends to follow through with the intentions of removing our great sport from the itinerary of the 2020 summer games, they are going to have a fight on their hands if we have anything to say about it.  Ripe with celebrities, dignitaries, and fans alike in attendance, this one day event showcased that even when political rivals cannot agree on anything else, they all concur with the belief that undoing centuries of history is a decision that as a collective people, we simply cannot stand for. In the poetic words of Dylan Thomas, we will not go gentle into that good night, and the 32 athletes that took to the mat for the 2013 Rumble on the Rails more than proved that we are here to stay!

With regard to the results of the two duals, to say that it was a Jekyll & Hyde type performance for the Americans would not be an understatement. Pitted first against a contingent from the Islamic Republic of Iran, the United States would be close on several occasions, but victory just never seemed to be in the cards as the Stars and Stripes dropped the freestyle dual by a one-sided margin of 6-1.

Winning the lone match for the Red, White and Blue was the poster boy of the hour, Cornell University’s, Kyle Dake. With short time on the clock in the first period, three-time World Cup medalist Hassan Tahmasebi would get in deep on a low single against the Ithaca native.  However, the excellent defense of Dake would enable him to fight off the takedown attempt and force the ball draw.  After the Iranian successfully drew a red ball (giving him the advantage), again it would be the four-time NCAA champion proving impossible to score on, locking onto the crotch and using the hold to lift and expose his opponent to win the first period 2-0.

After a second straight scoreless period during regulation, it would be Dake picking a ball from the bag.  Like Tahmasebi, Dake would make the most of his choice, plucking a blue ball to earn the right to try to end the match by finishing the leg clinch.  This would be a privilege that Dake would not allow to go to waste, as he quickly transitioned from a single to a power double to deposit the Iranian on his back for a takedown.

Opening Wednesday’s festivities at 55 kg against Iran would be two-time U.S. National Freestyle Champion, Obe Blanc, who was opposed by 2011 World Bronze Medalist/2012 Olympian, Hassan Rahimi. Getting on the board first and winning the first period would be the former Oklahoma State Cowboy Blanc, countering a shot from his opponent to turn in and then push the Iranian off the mat with 18 seconds remaining on the clock for the only point of the initial period.

In the second, it would Rahimi’s turn to beat the buzzer, converting on a single-leg with 10 seconds to go in the middle stanza to prolong the bout with a 1-0 period win of his own. After relatively low scoring efforts by both men in the first four minutes, there would be some action in the decisive third period with Rahimi getting on the board first with a takedown, but then quickly seeing his lead disappear when Blanc countered a gut wrench attempt to score a two-point exposure to take the 2-1 lead. Knowing that even if he scored another takedown to tie the match on the scoreboard, he would still lose on criteria, Rahimi would step up in a big way, not only getting the TD but then adding a two-point gut to seize control of the bout. It would be these two points on the turn that would prove to be the difference as the visiting wrestler would prevail 0-1, 1-0, 4-2 to give his team the early 1-0 lead in the team race.

Iran would make it two in a row to kick off the dual when Masoud Esmailpour, another of the 2012 Olympians (seventh place) from this loaded roster, would upend 2011 World Team Member/2013 National Freestyle Champion, Reece Humphrey, in straight periods 1-0, 6-0. Finding himself in a very tight spot, caught in a bodylock position on the edge of the mat, it would be the 2013 World Cup Gold Medalist from Iran finding a way to turn defense into offense, working his way out of the disadvantageous predicament to circle in and force a pushout with 10 seconds remaining in the first period to win 1-0.

In the second, Esmailpour, who in addition to this year’s World Cup title, also won a crown at the Asian Championships in 2010, would dominate from the opening whistle, notching his first takedown of the bout approximately 25 seconds in to grab the 1-0 lead. After going out of bounds, the wrestlers would be returned to their feet. However, they would not remain standing for long as again it would be Esmailpour drawing blood, snapping down on the head and spinning around to increase the lead to 2-0. Unlike his first opportunity from par terre, this time the Iranian would have time to work, and work he did, locking up a tight gut and taking it over three times to earn the technical fall in the second.

The proverbial bleeding would not stop at 66 kg when former two-time World Champion (2009, 2011), Mehdi Taghavi would continue to bury the U.S. in a deeper hole when he bested Kellen Russell in two periods to put his countrymen one win away from locking up the dual.  Unlike the first periods contested in the 55 and 60 kg bouts that enjoyed something of a feeling out process, 66 kg would witness fireworks from the start as Taghavi would hit a throw from his knees to score the opening two points of the bout. Russell, a two-time NCAA champion while wrestling for the University of Michigan, would then counter by coming out on top of the scramble to cut the deficit in half. Leading 2-1, Taghavi would add a little insurance, notching a TD to win the period 3-1.

Taghavi, who in addition to his pair of world titles has also represented his country at the past two Olympic Games (2008-10th; 2012-14th) would continue to assert his will in the second, getting penetration on the single-leg and finishing with 1:15 left in the second period to take the 1-0 lead. Taghavi would add one more takedown for good measure, striking with half a minute left to win the match 3-1, 2-0.

After fending off defeat with Dake’s aforementioned victory at 74 kg, the United States would be unable to feed off the momentum created by their phenom. Iran would capture the final three bouts of the afternoon, commencing at 84 kg when 2012 Olympic Bronze medalist Ehsan Lashgari would win a low scoring, but effective nonetheless 1-0, 1-0 decision over U.S. representative Keith Gavin, this year’s National Freestyle Champion.

Catching his American opponent getting a little too aggressive, it would be Lashgari, the medalist from the most recent summer games (who has also won three Asian titles in his decorated international career), securing the initial takedown of the match with 46 seconds remaining in the first period. The Iranian countered a Gavin shot to snap down and spin behind. This lone takedown would hold up as he would go on to win the period 1-0.

In something of a déjà vu moment, Lashgari would score again in the second period in exactly the same fashion, using the attacking style of the former NCAA champion from the University of Pittsburgh against him, again snapping and spinning around for the only takedown of period.  Using the old adage that it is better to win than look pretty, Lashgari’s pair of takedowns may not have caused the crowd to rise to their feet, but it certainly would do damage as the victory officially put the dual to bed by serving as the fourth win for the Iranians.

Making it two-for-two in head-to-head battles against former Ohio State Buckeye J.D. Bergman would be 2013 World Cup 5th place finisher, Hamed Tatari.  Having previously defeated Bergman en route to his top-5 finish at the World Cup, Tatari would surrender the first takedown of the bout on Wednesday, but would never lose faith in his abilities.

With Bergman leading 1-0, Tatari would respond in a big way, waiting until about 30 seconds were left in the period to even the score with a single-leg. With short time on the clock, Tatari would leave no room for chance, locking up and converting on a gut attempt to take the opening period of the 96 kg bout, 3-1.

Seemingly having his foe fatigued, Bergman would dive in on a single attempt with just over half a minute remaining in the second period. The aggressive move would unfortunately backfire as Tatari would be able to quickly sprawl and then fight his way around the corner to earn the takedown and the match by a score of 3-1, 1-0.

The dual against Iran would come to its conclusion with another U.S wrestler, Tervel Dlagnev, trying to gain redemption. Positioned last summer to win a bronze medal in his Olympic Games debut, the Lone Star State native would see his dreams crushed when he dropped the decision to Iran’s Khomeil Ghasemi.   Having placed higher than Ghasemi at the recent World Cup (Dlagnev was second, the Iranian fourth), the rematch would begin on a high note for the American as he secured the first takedown of the match to lead 1-0.  Dlagnev would maintain this advantage for the majority of the period, but on a day where nothing seemed to go right, Ghasemi would respond at the best possible moment, earning a TD of his own with less than five seconds remaining in the period to steal on the tiebreaking criteria.

Midway through the second period, the bull that is Ghasemi would strike, getting great penetration and then using his powerful legs to drive Dlagnev off the mat for the 1-0 lead.  Identical to the strategy used by his nemesis in the first period, this time it would be Dlagnev attempting to steal a victory in the closing seconds.  In deep on a low single with only a handful of ticks on the clock, the US grappler would come close, but would be unable to gain control as he would fall at the hands of the massive man from Iran, 1-1, 1-0.

As frustrating and humbling as the afternoon’s dual with Iran was, the nightcap would prove to be the polar opposite as all of a sudden, everything would seemingly just begin to fall into place.  Ball draws would go the way of the host country, underdogs on paper would rise to the occasion and pull upsets, guys who maybe did not have their best performances would still find ways to win, etc.  When all was said and done, the 6-1 defeat at the hands of Iran would be emphatically put in the rearview mirror as the Stars and Stripes would post their most convincing victory ever over the Russians, winning the first eight matches of the dual to close the show on a high note, 8-1 over the #1 wrestling country in the world. With the sun having set in NYC, it truly was the difference between night and day for the American contingent.

Well aware of the fact that his team was counting on him to get off to a fast start, 60 kg 2012 Olympic Bronze medalist Coleman Scott, who was the runner-up to Humphrey at last month’s U.S. Open would not let his country down. Scott transitioned from a duckunder to a single-leg with just under 1:00 remaining in the first to score the opening TD against Artas Sanaa, an eighth place finisher at the 2012 World Cup.  Being patient, Scott would keep Sanaa’s leg extended high before eventually finishing the TD with short time on the clock to win the first period 1-0.

After wrestling a scoreless two minutes in the middle stanza , the Russian would win the ball draw and finish the takedown off the leg clinch to send the opening bout of the dual to a decisive third period. Again, taking his time and picking his spots, the former NCAA Champion from Oklahoma State would explode with 30 seconds remaining in the match, hitting a power double straight to Sanaa’s back to take the 3-0 lead. This lead would hold up as Scott would emerge with the 1-0, 0-1, 3-0 victory to get the United States off on the right foot in the team race against the European rivals.

Stieber vs. Russia, http://www.phototrens.com

Because it was agreed upon in advance that this would not be a traditional dual, up next would be another 60 kg bout between a pair of rising stars from their respective countries, two-time NCAA champion Logan Stieber from Ohio State and Opan Sat, the three-time European champion who is widely regarded as one of the top competitors in the world. (He is #1 in the FILA World Rankings). Coming out like a man on a mission would be the defending NCAA Champion from the Buckeye State, scoring two takedowns and a hand-to-hand turn to propel himself to the 3-0 lead. Rather than concede, Sat would come roaring back, hitting a three-point throw to tie the match. Neither man would slow down on the offensive end, with Sat eventually emerging with a 7-5 period win after the first two minutes.

Identical to what he did in the first stanza, the second would again see Stieber strike expediently, getting in deep and finishing a takedown from feet to back to jump out to the 3-0 lead. Knowing how dangerous Sat can be, Stieber would not give his opponent the opportunity to rally, countering the Russian by throwing him to his back for three more points off a whizzer to win the second period by 6-0 technical fall.

After lighting up the scoreboard for 18 tallies in the first two stanzas, points would be at a premium in the third as the period went scoreless. Perhaps because he had treated spectators to a show, luck would be on the side of the Monroeville, Ohio native when Sat drew a blue ball from the bag, giving Stieber the opportunity to make it 2-for-2 in three period affairs for the Americans if he could win the leg-clinch. To the credit of Sat, he would not go down without a fight, working himself into a position where he was wrapped around Stieber, making it nearly impossible for the U.S. wrestler to cut the corner and get behind. Hence, knowing that he would be unable to finish the TD, Stieber would do the next best thing, locking through the crotch and then taking the Russian across his back for a exposure. The Russian coaching staff would attempt to challenge the close call, but in the end, the initial ruling would stand, increasing the Red, White and Blue’s lead to 2-0 with the 5-7, 6-0, 3-0 victory by Stieber.

Moving on to 66 kg, it would be another decorated former collegian, Brent Metcalf, keeping the victory train chugging when he fought back from a 2-0 loss in the first period to take the next two by scores of 1-0 and 7-0 to get the better of 2013 World Cup top-10 finisher, Soslan Ramonov. The epitome of the ‘Iowa Style’ that calls for constant attacks that smother the opposition, Metcalf would continue to push the pace in the second period, firing off shot after shot to no avail. Clearly the aggressor, but unable to break through on the scoreboard, Metcalf would see his fate be put in the hands of the luck of the draw when the second ended scoreless.  Seeing the blue ball come out of the bag would instantly energize the American, but he would not need the boost as he would win the period when he was awarded a penalty point for excessive cautions, as the Russian continued prevented him from establishing a lock.  In the third period, all of the tireless work done by Metcalf in the first four minutes would pay dividends as he would control his visibly-winded Russian opponent in every position on the mat, finishing off the come-from-behind victory with the 7-0 technical fall.

At 74 kg, after watching Dake win in his bout against Iran, the crowd would be treated to a coming out party for the man that the Cornell star beat in the 2013 NCAA finals. 2012 Hodge winner David Taylor from Penn State would utilize his amazing mat skills in the first period, scoring the opening takedown and then using his scrambling abilities to expose Magomed Kurbanaliev on multiple occasions to reign victorious 6-2 in the opening chapter. As impressive as he was in the first two minutes, Taylor would be even more remarkable in the second, catching his opponent in a headlock and tossing him to his back for the very quick fall. Pin + win for the Magic Man made the score 4-0 in favor of the hosts. Kurbanaliev was an 11th hour fill-in for 2009 World Silver medalist, Rasul Dzhukaev.

Burroughs vs. Russia, http://www.phototrens.com

Remaining at the 74 kg weight class, triumph would not come easy. But putting the dual on ice for the USA would be superstar Jordan Burroughs, the gold medalist at the last two major world events. Dropping the first period via 1-1 tiebreaker to virtual unknown Saba Khubezhty, Burroughs, who still has never lost in his senior freestyle career, would hit his stride over the course of the final four minutes, scoring on a combination of takedowns and pushouts to score 12 of the final 15 points of the bout to get his hand raised by a score of 1-1, 5-0, 7-3. Even in defeat, one cannot help but be impressed by the Russian, who pushed Burroughs to the limit, but simply did not have enough to knock the king off of his throne. The win by the former two-time NCAA champion from the University of Nebraska would be the fifth in a row for the U.S and would officially close out the men’s freestyle portion of the event.

Turning our attention to the fairer sex, it would not take 2012 World Silver Medalist Helen Maroulis long to prove that anything a man can do, a woman can do just as well, as she made fairly short work of her Russian opponent, Irina Kisel at 55 kg.  A heavy favorite on paper, Maroulis, the 2013 World Cup Gold Medalist from Maryland would not be in a generous mood, scoring the only two points of the first period to put herself one period closer to notching yet another win for the “land of the free.”  In the second, Maroulis would turn up the pressure to an even higher level, converting on a double-leg straight to Kisel’s back for the 3-0 lead.  With her foe in trouble, the multiple-time national champion who missed out on going to London when she was defeated in the finals of the 2012 Olympic Team Trials, would turn the Russian two times, keeping her on her back for the fall at the 35 second mark.  It should be noted that even without the fall, Maroulis was so dominant in that middle stanza that she still would have won by technical fall.

Wrapping up the action with a trio of Greco-Roman matches, the United States would go 2-1 in the most classic of the styles, with Kendrick Sanders and Ben Provisor each emerging victorious in their bouts and Jordan Holm falling in the final match of the night.

Opposed by Asker Orshokdugov, a wrestler who big things were expected from given his credentials as a medalist on the Cadet and Junior levels, Sanders would go on to win in straight periods, defending in the par terre position in the first period and then being awarded the second period via a caution and a penalty point when Orshokdugov was warned four times for moving before a lock had been secured.

Provisor, the representative for the United States at 74 kg at the London Olympics, would pull off one of the bigger upsets of the night when he defeated 2010 World Champion/three-time European Champion (2009-2011), Ambako Vachadze, in three periods, all of which had identical 1-0 scores. With goose-eggs being posted after 90 seconds of all three periods, Provisor and Vachadze would exchange wins in the first and second by defending the par terre position. In third 30 second par terre position, it would be the American who finally got something done from the top, earning an appreciation point (no exposure) for an attempted lift and throw. This single point would prove to be the difference maker as U.S. would keep the shutout intact.

On the cusp of going winless, a notion that is foreign (no pun intended) to any Russian wrestler, it would be Evgeni Saleev coming through for his country when he won his 84 kg bout 0-1, 1-0, 1-0 over 2013 U.S. National Champion, Holm. Another dark horse in this Russian lineup, if you search for Saleev’s resume on the FILA database, you won’t find much. But alas, true to the spirit that it’s not what you have done in the past that matters, it’s what you do now, the Russian would get perhaps the most significant victory of his career when the Americans got a slight dose of their own medicine. Having lost two periods because of improper leg-clinch and/or par terre procedure, the Russians would finally see a call go in their favor when Holm was cautioned and penalized when he jumped the whistle in the third period. This penalty point would be all that Saleev would require and he would make no real attempt from top, instead allowing Holm to get to his feet and then backing away to preserve Russia’s only win of the night.

Iran 6 United States 1
55 kg/121 lbs – Mehdi Taghavi (Iran) dec. Obe Blanc (USA) 0-1, 1-0, 4-2
60 kg/132 lbs – Masoud Esmailpour (Iran) dec. Reece Humphrey (USA) 1-0, 6-0
66 kg/145.5 lbs – Mehdi Taghavi (Iran) dec. Kellen Russell (USA) 3-1, 2-0
74 kg/163 lbs – Kyle Dake (USA) dec. Hassan Tahmasebi (Iran) 2-0, 1-0
84 kg/185 lbs – Ehsan Lashgari (Iran) dec. Keith Gavin (USA) 1-0, 1-0
96 kg/211.5 lbs – Hamed Tatari (Iran) dec. J.D. Bergman (USA) 3-1, 1-0
120 kg/264.5 lbs – Khomeil Ghasemi (Iran) dec. Tervel Dlagnev (USA) 1-1, 1-0

United States 8 Russia 1
55 kg/121 lbs (Women’s FS) – Helen Maroulis (USA) pin Irina Kisel (Russia) 2-0, 0:35
60 kg/132 lbs – Coleman Scott (USA) dec. Artas Sanaa (Russia) 1-0, 0-1, 3-0
60 kg/132 lbs– 
Logan Stieber (USA) dec. Opan Sat (Russia) 5-7, 6-0, 3-0
66 kg/145.5 lbs – 
Brent Metcalf (USA) dec. Soslan Ramanov (Russia) 0-2, 1-0, 7-0
66 kg/145.5 lbs (GR) – Kendrick Sanders (USA) dec. Asker Orshokdugov (Russia) 1-0, 1-0
74 kg/163 lbs – David Taylor (USA) pin Magomed Kurbanaliev (Russia) 7-2, 0:16
74 kg/163 lbs – Jordan Burroughs (USA) vs. Saba Khubezhty (Russia) 1-1, 5-0, 7-3
74 kg/163 lbs (GR) – Ben Provisor (USA) dec. Ambako Vachadze (Russia) 1-0, 0-1, 1-0
84 kg/185 lbs (GR) –Evgeni Saleev (Russia) dec. Jordan Holm (USA) 0-1, 1-0, 1-0

How to Watch Team USA (Including Kyle Dake) Take On Iran and Russia at Wednesday's 'Rumble on the Rails'

 
 
If you aren’t attending Wednesday’s Rumble on the Rails event in New York City, you can still watch Team USA take on both Iran (at 3:30 p.m.) and Russia (at 6 p.m.) in dual meets from Grand Central Terminal in New York City.

The official website of the United States Olympic Committee, TeamUSA.org, will provide a free live stream of both duals.  For more information or to watch, see here.

There are additional options to view the action as well.  NBC Sports Network will be airing the dual with Iran live and Universal Sports will do the same for the meet against Russia. In addition, both of those channels will offer web streaming options (NBCSports.com/liveextra (link) is the site for the Iran dual while UniversalSports.org is the location of the Russia dual).

Following the wrestling action, the annual Beat the Streets Gala will take place at the Bryant Park Grill.

A native New Yorker will compete, as Cornell’s four-time NCAA champion Kyle Dake will take the mat at 74 kg/163 pounds against Iran.  Other stars participating include Olympic gold medalist Jordan Burroughs and bronze winner Coleman Scott. The lineups provided last week for both duals can be found here.

 

Cornell's Kyle Dake to Compete for the USA Against Iran at the 'Rumble on the Rails'

 
 
Four-time NCAA champion Kyle Dake of Cornell will compete for the United States team at the Beat the Streets Rumble on the Rails event in New York City on May 15.  The Lansing High School graduate will take the mat at 74 kg (163 pounds) against Hassan Tahmasebi of Iran in the first dual of the day, which begins at 3:30 p.m. at Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central Terminal.

Photo by BV

Following that opening meet, there will be Beat the Streets exhibition bouts at 5 p.m., followed by a 6 p.m. dual between the USA and Russia. The evening will conclude with the Beat the Streets Gala at the Bryant Park Grill.

For information on tickets, see Here.

The full lineups for the dual meets:

USA vs. Iran, Freestyle

55 kg/121 lbs. – Obe Blanc (USA) vs. Hassan Rahimi

60 kg/132 lbs. – Reece Humphrey (USA) vs. Masoud Esmailpour Jouybari

66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Kellen Russell (USA) vs. Mehdi Taghavi Kermani

74 kg/163 lbs. – Kyle Dake (USA) vs. Hassan Tahmasebi

84 kg/185 lbs. – Keith Gavin (USA) vs. Ehsan Lashgari

96 kg/211.5 lbs. – J.D. Bergman (USA) vs. Hamed Tatari

120 kg/264.5 lbs. – Tervel Dlagnev (USA) vs. Komeil Ghasemi

USA vs. Russia

60 kg/132 lbs. – Coleman Scott (USA) vs. Opan Sat

60 kg/132 lbs. – Logan Stieber (USA) vs. Artas Sanaa

66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Brent Metcalf (USA) vs. Soslan Ramonov

74 kg/163 lbs. – Jordan Burroughs (USA) vs. Rasul Dzhukaev

74 kg/163 lbs. – David Taylor (USA) vs. Saba Khubetzhty

66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Kendrick Sanders (USA) vs.  Asker Orshokdugov (Greco)

74 kg /163 lbs. – Ben Provisor (USA) vs. Ambako Vachadze (Greco)

84 kg/185 lbs. – Jordan Holm (USA) vs. Evgeni Saleev (Greco)

55 kg/121 lbs. – Helen Maroulis (USA) vs Irina Kisel (Women’s Freestyle)

 

Beat the Streets's "Rumble on the Rails" Will Feature Team USA vs. Russia and Iran in NYC in May

 
 
For years, the annual Beat the Streets event in New York City has featured some of the best wrestling talent around.

2013 will be no exception.

On May 15, Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall will be the host of the “Rumble on the Rails”, involving three of the world’s top wrestling nations – the United States, Russia and Iran.  Action is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. when the United States takes on the Iranians.  Shortly afterwards, Beat the Streets exhibition matches will take place before the US and Russia square off in another dual at 6 p.m..  Following the competition, the annual Beat the Streets Gala will begin at the Bryant Park Grill.

The nations will come together to support both the Beat the Streets program as well as show unity for the Keep Olympic Wrestling movement.

For more information, see Here.

 

 

Top Talent Comes Together for Fourth Annual Adam Frey Classic On Sunday

Adam Frey

It’s hard not to be excited about the Adam Frey Classic this year.  Just ask Penn State National Champion Ed Ruth.

According to Adam Frey Foundation Board Member Josh Liebman, Ruth was in the middle of a special family occasion when he was contacted about the event.

“Ed had a lot going on, but he called back right away and said he definitely wanted to do it,”  Liebman said. “It was on his mind enough that he couldn’t wait until the next day to call.”

In the fourth annual event for the Adam Frey Foundation, Ruth will square off against Lehigh’s two-time All-American Robert Hamlin in the feature bout in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

“We were trying to think of matchups that would be really exciting for wrestling fans and we knew [Hamlin] would be involved,” Liebman said. “He and his family have been really supportive of the Foundation and with the event being at Lehigh this year, it was a great fit.”

Ruth has posted first and third place finishes at NCAAs, while Hamlin has taken second and fourth.

After holding the first three Adam Frey Classics at Rider, Liebman is excited for the new location at Grace Hall on Lehigh’s campus.

“So far, it’s been nothing but great,” he said. “Everyone has been very supportive and interested in being part of the event and helping it grow.  The sports marketing staff has helped out and the coaches have too. I really wanted to get Pennsylvania involved since Adam was from there.  It’s like he’ll be closer to home, at least for a year.”

Besides the new arena, another addition in 2012 is a match of high school stars with the top rising junior in the country, Chance Marstellar, taking on New Jersey state champion Johnny Sebastian.

“We’ve never done a high school vs. high school match before,” Liebman said. “Last year, because of an injury, [Blair Academy’s] Brooks Black stepped in to wrestle Zach Rey.  But this year, Marstellar really wanted to be a part of it.  The college kids weren’t in a hurry to wrestle him, but [Sebastian] was excited.  He loves to test himself.  I expect Johnny to start next season ranked in the top 5 or 10 at his weight, so I think it’s a premiere matchup.”

It’s one of many bouts Liebman is looking forward to viewing.  (The full lineup is listed below). He believes the tilt between 141 pound All-Americans Boris Novachkov (Cal Poly) and Perry, NY native Mike Nevinger (Cornell) will be one to watch.

“That match may not jump out at people, but I can’t wait for it,” Liebman said. “They’re both so tough on top and a little funky on their feet.  I think it could steal the show.”

While heavyweight battles aren’t typically the most entertaining affairs, Liebman is anticipating 2012 All-American Nick Gwiazdowski’s meeting with former Pittsburgh Panther Ryan Tomei. He predicts good action and “not a lot of the hanging on you often see at heavy.”

Liebman added that having Gwiazdowski, a former star at Duanesburg High, in the event is exciting for another reason.  When he was a senior in high school, the recent NC State transfer participated in the New York-New Jersey Charity Challenge, which benefitted the Adam Frey Foundation.  In fact, Gwiazdowski’s pin sealed the victory for the Empire State.

“It’s something I’d like to have on a regular basis — having guys be a part of an event in high school and staying involved with our organization in college.  It feels like watching guys grow up through your peewee program,” Liebman said. “That’s what’s great about the wrestling community.  Everyone, even if they didn’t know Adam personally, wants to know his story and get involved.”

Adam Frey’s alma mater, Blair Academy, has been very involved from the start.  This year, the event will be set up as a dual meet between Blair and Angry Fish with several alums of those squads coaching and competing.  As a bonus, Monroe Woodbury’s Vinny Vespa, who is fighting Stage 4 cancer, may serve as an honorary coach.

Nevinger and Gwiazdowski won’t be the only representatives from the Empire State.  All-American Justin Accordino of Hofstra will take the mat, as will John Jay graduate Billy Watterson (Brown), Brockport native Christian Boley, Columbia’s Jake O’Hara, Cornell’s Caleb Richardson and Binghamton’s Pat Hunter and Cody Reed.  In addition, Beat the Streets (BTS) wrestlers from New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore will participate in exhibition bouts between 1 and 2 p.m. before the main event begins.

“I’m really excited about having BTS,” Liebman said. “It’s a chance for kids to get outside the city.  One of the important parts of the BTS program is for kids to strive for a college education, even if it’s outside of wrestling.  This is a great chance for the kids to visit a college campus and see that it’s something they may want.”

What Liebman wants is to fill Grace Hall as close to capacity as possible.  He wants the wrestling community to come together to support the Foundation and celebrate Adam Frey’s life.

“In the past, our events have had a fun atmosphere,” he said. “Top talent comes but since it’s not a pressure situation, the guys go out there and relax and wrestle.  It’s more open, more fun. It quickly becomes a feeling of reunion rather than a somber event where we’re memorializing Adam.  Adam wouldn’t have wanted that; he wouldn’t want a moment of silence.  He’d rather have everyone having a good time.”

Exhibition Matches 1-2 p.m. – Beat the Streets New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore

Main Event Matches, Beginning at 2 p.m.

Chuck Zeisloft (Rider) vs. Billy Watterson (Brown)

Nic Bedelyon (Kent State) vs. Steve Mytych (Drexel)

Mike Nevinger (Cornell) vs. Boris Novachkov (Cal Poly)

Tyler Small (Kent State) vs. Vinnie Fava (Rider)

Caleb Richardson (Cornell) vs. Pat Hunter (Binghamton)

BJ Young (Newberry) vs. CJ Cobb (UPenn)

Justin Accordino (Hofstra) vs. Jake O’Hara (Columbia)

James Fleming (Clarion) vs. Joey Napoli (Lehigh)

Ian Miller (Kent State) vs. Shane Welch (Lehigh)

Chance Marsteller vs. Johnny Sebastian*

Bekzod Abduakhmanov (Clarion) vs. Josh Asper (Maryland)

Nathaniel Brown (Lehigh) vs. Jimmy Resnick (Rider)

Jimmy Sheptock (Maryland) vs. Ricky McDonald (Brown)

Christian Boley (Maryland) vs. Andrew Campolattano (Ohio State)

Nick Gwiazdowski (NC State) vs. Ryan Tomei (Pitt/ OTC)

Max Wessell (Lehigh) vs. Cody Reed (Binghamton)

Robert Hamlin (Lehigh) vs. Ed Ruth (Penn State)**

*High School match

**Featured bout

***Match-ups provided by Josh Liebman

To purchase tickets in advance: http://ev6.evenue.net/cgi-bin/ncommerce3/SEGetEventList?groupCode=S&linkID=global-lehigh&shopperContev6.evenue.net

For more information, please visit adamfrey.us

"A Sleeping Giant is Awakening": Beat the Streets Continues to Build in New York City

“I enjoy doing big things,” said Al Bevilacqua before the Beat the Streets (BTS) 2012 Gala and Benefit last week.  “That’s been my body of work for over 47 years – doing big things.  Fortunately, we found Mike Novogratz who really loves to do big things.”

The last few weeks fit the bill as “big” for Bevilacqua, beginning with over 80 hours of train rides to Oklahoma where he was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, receiving the Order of Merit.   It certainly wasn’t the first ceremony for Bevilacqua, who is also enshrined in several other Halls of Fame, including those of New York State Wrestling, New York University Athletics and Massapequa High School.  However, this induction was especially meaningful since his son Chris joined him as an honoree, receiving recognition as Outstanding American.

“I’ve been in other ceremonies before but this was a big one,” he said. “Having my son there alongside me made it even better.”

After a long return trip on the rails to the Northeast, the week continued to be “big” with last Thursday’s BTS Gala in Manhattan.  After a freestyle dual between the United States and Russia in Times Square last year, the first sporting event held in that section of Manhattan, the 2012 event was even bigger.

It once again offered a battle between some of the finest American and Russian grapplers, but it also included a three-competitor wrestle-off for the 60 kg Olympic spot won by Coleman Scott.

When asked what excited him most about the “Grapple in the Big Apple”, Bevilacqua didn’t hesitate.

“I look at the crowd,” he said before the event. “I look for the television cameras.  We have trouble as a sport attracting mainstream media coverage, but now we have major newspapers and news broadcasts covering this event.

“Around 1.1 million people pass through Times Square every day,” Bevilacqua continued.  “Maybe they stop and watch for a few minutes.  Maybe they catch some of the four hours on the JumboTron. That’s a lot of eyes seeing wrestling.  You need to go where the people are.  That’s what excites me about the event.  You have to build the interest, the passion, the excitement.”

That theme of building and maintaining a love of wrestling comes up again and again in conversation with the celebrated teacher, coach and wrestling promoter.  It’s one of the fundamental building blocks of the BTS program.  Years ago, the New York native saw the nation’s big cities as an untapped area.  He firmly believed as an educator that developing wrestling programs in middle schools and then high schools in urban areas would have profound benefits for both the sport and for the kids.

While he had characteristically big plans, he knew in this case, things needed to start small.  A parent contacted the organization and suggested approaching the principal at Simon Baruch Middle School.

“I had to go into sales mode to get things started in New York City,” Bevilacqua said.  “I explained it as an educational after school program that develops life skills through a great activity; not as a sports program.”

The principal decided to give it a chance and BTS began in the one institution with 28 kids.

“I have always seen after school programs as an extension of the school day,” Bevilacqua said. “It’s the best classroom in the building.  It’s a laboratory for all the academic subjects.

“It’s a laboratory for mathematics.  Mathematics relates to a movement skill – it’s all about movements that create angles. It’s a laboratory for biology, understanding the human body and a quality of life.  It’s a laboratory for history — we talked about the 13 United States Presidents that wrestled.  We tied it into education. But most importantly, the kids had somewhere to go after school and had a lot of fun.  We followed a curriculum of ‘fun and fundamentals’ created in the early 1970s by the United States Wrestling Federation. It is the ‘cornerstone’ of our program.”

Ten weeks later, metrics on the 28 participants were measured, including attendance, deportment and grades.  The principal said it was “the greatest program they ever had” at the school and she arranged a luncheon meeting with another 10 middle schools.

“I simply opened the program by introducing myself and then turned it over to the Baruch Middle School principal,” Bevilacqua said. “At the end of the luncheon, they all came on board.”

Interestingly, when looking for people to lead BTS in these institutions in the early stages, Bevilacqua didn’t seek out experienced wrestlers.

“Finding adults who have the passion to help kids was most important,” he said. “I almost preferred that they didn’t know that much about wrestling because wrestling people tend to compete too quickly.  We recruited teachers in the building and told them that they would be judged on how many kids started, how many finished and then how many came back the next year.

“When you put the competition model in too quickly, there’s a tendency to worry about weight and take a lot of the fun out of the sport,” Bevilacqua continued. “That’s why so many kids quit.  The youth numbers nationwide are very good, but the numbers drop off because somewhere along the way the experience isn’t good.  The first step is to build up the passion in the kids; make them love the sport.”

Following this philosophy, Bevilacqua said that in the first two years, the BTS participants didn’t compete with anyone outside of their own practices.   In year three, with 20 programs on board, they had a “Wrestling Day” with a clinic, lunch, coaches certification program and scrimmages without referees.

Of course, now, several years later, many of those early participants are competing at the high school level.   While competition has not been the focus of the program, especially in the middle schools, the gains being made on the mat by those involved in the BTS program in New York are evident.

The Public School Athletic League (PSAL) had its first NYPHSAA state finalist this year when Brooklyn International’s Cheick Ndiaye took second place at 106 pounds in Division II in Albany.   Several other grapplers who have spent time with BTS, including McZiggy Richards (3rd at 182), Patryk Kopczynski (4th at 220), Rrok Ndokaj (4th at 170), Abubokarr Sow (5th at 126), and Cristian Masaya (6th at 152) also earned All-State honors.

“The PSAL started wrestling 30 years ago, but the quality didn’t compare to much of the state,” he said. “It’s the largest section in the state in terms of schools.  There are over 300 high schools and we’re in 65 of them. We’re in 58 middle schools. We’re starting to see the results.  Now we feel that a sleeping giant is awakening.”

More proof of that giant’s emergence came in early May at Broome Community College in Binghamton at the New York State Freestyle and Greco Championships. BTS took first place as a club in Junior Freestyle and Greco, along with top three finishes in both styles in the Cadet Division.  In all, BTS had 14 champions and 17 silver medalists, including six first and eight second place winners on the women’s squad. (BTS is targeting the start of 25 women’s programs in the schools over the next five years).

But perhaps more than the victories on the mat, Bevilacqua is proud to see wrestlers continue the sport at the next level.  Several seniors will be wrestling in college, including (but not limited to) Brooklyn Tech teammates Kopczynski (Hunter College) and Masaya (American), Wingate’s Ahmed Elsayed (Brown) and Monsignor Farrell’s Ndokaj (Bloomsburg).

“That’s what it’s about.  I can’t emphasize enough that it’s an academic thing we’re doing,” he said.  “It’s not just a wrestling program.  We use wrestling as our tool.  I’m an educator.  I have a competitive part and an educator part.  The success we’re having is not because of the wrestling, but because of what we’re doing for the kids, helping them work through what is frankly in my opinion a dysfunctional school system.

“Many of our donors are not the usual wrestling people,” he continued.  “We find that too many of the guys that get the most out of wrestling usually don’t invest by giving back to their schools and colleges.  Most of our donors are people that became successful because of the life skills and the toughness they learned from wrestling.  They love wrestling and recognize what it’s done for them.  They do ‘big time.’ They want to give that back to help others.”

Giving back is what the BTS Gala held last week is about.  The first year, Bevilacqua said the “Gala” was a get together in a Chinese restaurant.  The second, it was a party for the donors.  Later, in the style Bevilacqua likes, things started to get bigger.

The Intrepid aircraft carrier in 2010.  Times Square in 2011 and 2012.  In each of the past three years, Bevilacqua said over $1 million was raised for the program.

“Times Square is big,” he said.  “It’s the best promotion we could think of to educate and expose people to wrestling. But it’s important to remember that nothing big ever happens because of one person.  People mention me and Mike Novogratz, but there have been so many who have helped to build Beat the Streets.  We’re a long way from our vision but we’re getting there.  We’re building. You’re seeing the results and it’s just the tip of the iceberg.”